Central to the success of a further education (FE) institution is effective leadership. Leadership has never been more important in the sector, given that there is a demographic challenge related to older leaders not being replaced and a retention challenge with good leaders increasingly hard to find.
Research from 2019 showed that a third of FE leaders (33%) were likely to leave FE in the next 12 months, underlining that the time has never been better to consider a college team leader role.
There are specific qualifications that enable you to develop and hone your leadership and management skills, such as the level 3 qualification in leadership and management at Carlisle College. This course aims to provide you with “the skills and knowledge to lead, organise and motivate teams”.
There is strong evidence that “effective public service leaders are associated with improved organisational productivity and employee wellbeing”. In addition, “interventions to develop leaders … must account for context, offer practical insights and focus on behaviour change”.
There is a significant thrust from government at the moment to focus on the post-Brexit workplace. In terms of FE leadership, a shifting landscape, financial constraints and policy changes all require individuals with the “requisite skills and experiences to lead such institutions is this challenging environment is fundamentally important”.
· the teaching route (rising through the college ranks)
· internal operational or commercial route (those who rose up in the FE sector, but in non-teaching disciplines)
· external leadership route
· public sector route (experience gained in the civil service, local government or military, for example).
There are some universal team leader qualities that will crop up time and time again in the job descriptions.
The lead tutor in health and social care at Northern College and the lead tutor in digital roles at the same institution have similarities. For instance, both positions list as a key duty the “design and implementation of the curriculum plan” to “ensure that it meets student and funder needs”.
In addition, they both require “co-ordination of teaching, learning and assessment”, “co-ordination of in-house quality assurance procedures” and “co-ordination and participation in the design and development of teaching and learning materials”.
A new scheme was rolled out in 2019, in a bid to tackle the “worryingly low” number of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) college leaders in the UK. The ‘Diversity in Leadership Programme’ was launched after research found just 6.8% of senior and middle managers in FE colleges came from a BAME background.
The four facets of the scheme focus on:
· unconscious bias workshops
· one-to-one coaching for aspiring leaders
· a diversity charter for the whole FE sector to sign up to
· new toolkits.